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Blake Anderson? More Like #Based Anderson

We chat with the 'Workaholics' star about festival culture, the allure of Lil B, and how music is dope.
November 18, 2014, 3:00pm

There’s a video on YouTube from 2008 called “Musical Beers.” In it, the three dudes from Workaholics—Anders Holm, Adam DeVine, and Blake Anderson, who at the time were acting under the sketch comedy group Mail Order Comedy—perform a skit in which Anders has a drinking problem. Adam and Blake don’t want to give Anders a beer because, according to Blake, “Every time we drink together it’s like I want to kill myself by going down on a wolf.” Anders argues he should be able to drink (an argument he wins in like 30 seconds) so they eventually buckle and give him a red cup. As soon as Anders takes a sip, Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” kicks in the background: “I wish you would step back from that ledge my friend,” Stephan Jenkins’ noticeably 90s voice croons. The guys stop.

“You hear that dude? Every time you take a sip of beer, sad music plays,” says Adam. Blake adds: “If that’s not a drinking problem, what is?!”

The rest of the four-minute skit is about how they can change Ders’ mentality from turning down to turning up. In a weird act of brilliance, the three guys are able to take something on the “never ever joke about this” list—drinking problems—and make a joke about it. And they do it successfully.

This mentality would become the foundation of Workaholics, the charming show on Comedy Central that enters its fifth season in January, about three run of the mill dimwits who recently graduated college but don’t want to grow up. They support themselves with telemarketing jobs—making just enough to get by, pay rent, buy weed, and drink beer. Their party lifestyle also leads them to hairy situations, both in the office and out in the world, which include but are not limited to the following: The Gathering of the Juggalos, an EDM rave, getting in physical confrontations with women, accidentally becoming friends with a child molester, and more. The show walks a line of being the most offensive thing on television (one recent episode features the dudes’ house getting infested with rats and them proceeding to bloodily beat all of the rats to death with baseball bats) while still being endearing. And the underlying truth of all of this, and arguably what makes it OK, is that the motivations of these characters isn’t malicious—the guys are just idiots.

Anders, Adam, and Blake all write and star in the show—alongside Kyle Newacheck (who plays the dudes’ gross pot dealer named Karl)—but Blake, with his crazy hair and mustache, might be the most recognizable. In their rise to fame, they’ve also become leaders of the LA-scene, often seen turning up at festivals (specifically Coachella), and Workaholics is laced with jokes about music. Recently, Blake took a minute out of shooting the upcoming season (which is out in January) to chat about the show, the Based God, and how music is just generally dope.

Noisey: This is a broad question, but how did your relationship with music begin?
Blake Anderson: I don’t know, man. I might have been born a wizard. I like to think maybe a lot of where my taste in music spawned was probably from Weird Al. Because I have a pretty eclectic taste in music and my mom didn’t really listen to too much music while I was growing up, but I definitely heard stuff from my dad. It was probably some smooth R&B, but other than that I just did a lot of listening to Weird Al when I was a kid.

What was the first Weird Al song that turned you onto him?
Well, the first one that I spun until it broke pretty much The Food Album, which is just a collection of his greatest hits about food, and let me tell you, there are some good ones. There’s lasagna, c’mon.

When did you start moving towards performance?
I grew up with Kyle who’s on our show. We grew up together, and he always had a really dumpy recording studio at his house. His parents were nice enough to let us crash over there and drink Capri Suns and just kind of hang out all day.

What’s your favorite flavor of Capri Sun?
Isn’t there one called Pacific Cooler or something?

Yeah, Pacific Cooler is awesome.
And Mountain Blast was pretty good too. I think that one had kiwis and strawberries in it—that was pretty exotic for a kid like me. Took me to the islands—the Caribbean [laughs]. Anyway, we used to just screw around. Kyle can play guitar but none of us were too talented when it comes to playing music, so I suppose I would do some singing here and there. But we definitely made an album—me, Kyle, and my buddy Justin in high school. Our group was a Czechoslovakian rap group called “Sugar In The Raw.” Because we all found out that we had common ancestry in Czechoslovakia, so we kind of had these Halloween costumes where we made up where we were this Czechoslovakian rap trio. And you know, our whole mission as a group was to reunite the Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia to one great nation once again.

Did you succeed?
I mean, Clayton Valley High School knew what was up; we definitely moved them a little bit. Because we burned like 100 CDs and we would sling them at lunch. We sold quite a few. We actually got in trouble with some parents because our content was a little bit risqué I guess.

What did the album cover look like?
It was pretty much the three of us with fake mustaches on, basically looking down from heaven.

Sounds tight.
You know what, now that I think about it, you know that Drake album where his head is in the clouds? It looked a lot like that. He might have ripped us.

I'd like to see that.
Yea, I still have a copy.

There are a bunch of great little jokes in Workaholics about Lil B. When did you have your “holy shit Lil B is awesome” moment?
Well, you know, coming from the Bay Area like I was put on The Pack pretty early. You know, like, they had “Vans,” a smash hit that I just lived by. And I bought that album and it was just dope through and through. Lil B was definitely the standout of the crew. It was kind of him and Young L, but B had some serious skills and I remember going over to my little cousins house because he kept his ear to the underground Bay Area hip-hop scene. There was this song called “I’m Heem” or something. This is before he truly embraced being the Based God, but he started to do this thing—we would call them the Face Freestyles. It was just cool to hear a dude who was really just flowing and not giving a fuck, but his beats were still really tight and ground breaking. If you pull apart hip-hop and rap music today, Lil B, whether people like to admit it, has a fucking huge influence.

Absolutely.
I just think we need to see it as an honor that we’re on the earth at the same time as Lil B and protect Lil B. Thank you Based God.

Have you ever met him?
I’ve talked to him over the phone, actually recently, which was a very, you know, cool experience. But I’ve never really met him in person, not yet. I definitely feel like I might get a little star struck. But whatever, I’d be cool. I’d play it really cool.

What musicians have you met? Any good stories?
That’s what’s been kind of my favorite part of this whole having a TV show thing is that I’ve been able to meet a lot of people that I have a lot of respect for in the music industry. If anything, I feel kind of stupid because I should be at comedy clubs making connections with my peers but I don’t. Like, I have comedy friends but really I’ve met most people at music festivals. I have way more connections in the music world than anywhere else because that’s kind of always has driven me. At the end of the day I could always just listen to music. That’s always been what I’ve loved doing. Watching movies is cool and all that but I don’t know, there’s just something, music is just fuckin’ life, really.

The mantra at the Noisey desk is simply, “Music is dope.” [Laughs]
There is it. Or maybe you could say, “Music is beer,” because you can't live without either. It’s a hard decision for me.

Have you ever met Drake? I don’t know why but that’s on my list of questions.
I have not. I have seen him perform live, I feel like I’ve smelled him in the air but I have yet to meet Drake.

That will be a moment.
Who knows. Now that he’s starting to show up at college basketball games, maybe he’ll roll onto the set and say what’s up. You never know. That guy’s just doing whatever he wants.

I feel like a Drake guest spot on Workaholics would just be unreal.
You know he’s an act, you know he’s funny. He’s great. He’s the best. I have no bad things to say about Drake. I truly do think he’s fantastic.

Did you hear those new Drake songs?
I did. I thought they were really good. I like that “Heat of the Moment” song or whatever. That shit got me all hyped, and yet also sexually charged. It’s my shit.

It’s a weird thing that happens.
Yeah, he’s good about that. He’s good about making you want to shoot machine guns and also make love to your woman.

If you could pick a dream musician to have on the show or to have guest spot, who do you think you would pick?
Oh man. That would be a tough one. I mean, it would be really sick to just get Mac Dre—if Mac Dre were still around, to get a Mac Dre episode. Because I feel like I could really easily like that, just because there’s the whole Thizz movement and all that. But man, I don't know. Living? That is so tough. So many names come to mind. Just Motörhead alone would be cool. ZZ Top? That would be fuckin’ cool. I’ll go with ZZ Top. Yeah, if we had a cool ZZ Top episode where it’s like us three dudes, and they’re like our three dads, that would be fuckin’ sick. But we have to wear fake beards and fill in for them on a sweet show in El Paso.

That sounds like a perfect episode, to be honest.
Right? I could definitely be Frank Beard because he only has a mustache. And I’ve got that.

What was your first memorable concert experience?
My first concert ever, I believe, was Elton John in Anaheim. My dad and stepmom took me and I didn’t put up a fight even though I was a teenager. Usually, I would be like “This sucks; this is gay.” Well actually, it would be because Elton John is gay, but you know, not in that way. Not in that sense. In the nature sense of “gay.” Anyway, I went there not really knowing too many Elton John songs or whatever, but by the end of the concert I’m like, “Whoa, man! Elton John’s fuckin’ sick!” It was cool, there was like straight up old businessmen just cutting loose to this dude. And he was slaying the piano. He would go underneath the piano and play it upside down and shit. And then like Jim Carrey came out and sang a duet for “Rocket Man.” Jim Carrey was like my god back then so it was a really cool experience.

Do you remember how old you were?
I don’t know. I was definitely in high school. I wish I remembered the tour name. But he definitely played “Circle of Life,” so if that helps maybe.

The Workaholics dudes are often seen at festivals. What are some of the weirder things you’ve seen?
Yeah well you know, it’s different, as much as every festival’s the same, they’re also very different, you know? I usually like all the festivals I go to in Austin. With like South By or Fun Fun Fun Fest, it’s just like cool bar scenes and you’re actually in the midst of it. But then you go to something like Coachella, where it’s Hollywood, you know? You go and you know you’re gonna get hit up with some photos when you’re walking across the field. But also, they’re gonna pull a pretty dope headliner. It’s a weird balance wherever it is. And then we got a chance to do Bonnaroo too. I think Bonnaroo is a pretty legit straight up music festival that isn’t tarnished by too much media or anything. It’s massive, and it’s just people passed out on the ground. The thing that you can never get used to, though—at least for me—are those fucking EDM tents, man. They’re insane. They’re truly insane. You can just tell people wait their whole lives to hit that Coachella EDM tent, and they are so tweaked out sometimes, it’s insane. I mean, good for them. Bless their little hearts. But, just be careful, kids. Be careful.

Yeah EDM culture is so weird and strange and awesome. I think that was one of my favorite episodes from Workaholics is the EDM one.
Yeah man, I mean I like some of it here and there, but like to really be EDM dude would be quite a lifestyle. Quite a lifestyle. But I mean, you do get to see a lot of butt cheeks so I understand the allure.

That’s one of the things that I really do like about the show, maybe we could talk about it a little bit more, is that you guys have created a world in which you can tackle any trend happening. “We’ll become EDM guys.” “We’ll become rappers.” “We’ll go to the Gathering of the Juggalos.” What do you think has allowed you guys to do that? Is there anything greater that you’re trying to say or are you just poking fun at it all?
Well, you know. Very early on, we made that conscious decision for our characters not to be bullies. Our characters are down to experience stuff. Even when we went to the Juggalo festival, at first we all had the idea that everybody thinks, which is like, “this is disgusting—walking talking diarrhea people.” But when we went there, we actually got everything we were looking for, and we became a part of the Juggalo family. In the end, we try to approach every culture we’re attacking with an open mind. We’re not trying to just be bullies and shit on the weird stuff. We give it a fair chance. At least our characters, they’re there to have fun no matter what the situation. I always liked those kind of people anyways. When you meet the people who are just standing in the corner, judging, it’s like, “why the fuck are you here, then?” If you’re gonna come to this shit, have a good time. Immerse yourself. You don’t have to OD on molly, but find fun in these situations. Whether you’re laughing at, or with people, just get involved. You never know what you’re gonna like. You might be a Dead Head, or follow Widespread Panic, I don’t know.

The characters on the show, they’re just so endearingly ignorant, you know? These guys are just idiots, so you’re not offended when they say something dumb. Like the episode where the girl threatens to beat you guys up and you can’t beat her up because she’s a girl. You’re dealing with this whole social conundrum of in a way that’s funny, and somehow not offensive.
Right. I mean I go on World Star every day, and I watch it. More and more, you’re seeing videos where kids are just getting socked up, and you’re like, “What! What the hell is going on here?” It needs to be addressed, but I mean everybody knows that’s not cool. Watching that shit is so fucked up but, you know, our characters are so dumb I guess we try to at least show the side where, I don’t know, in a way you’re laughing with us, but you’re like, “Oh yeah, there’s a reason why these dumb dudes are saying this.” Hopefully, it’s weird, because I think our fans have a weird decision they have to make where they want to be like us dudes, but you also want to make the exact opposite decisions they make. It’s a weird balance.

[Laughs] Is it hard writing for that character at times?
A little bit. Because you know, we have to flip flop with morals or you kind of have to really think of, “Well, why would this ever be okay?” I mean, from pretty early on, even when we were like befriending a child predator, like, at what point does your moral compass say like, “Yo, dude you’ve gone too far; we gotta stop this.” You know? So yeah, it’s always finding that balance of like, when do you throw your morals out the window to have a good time? And I guess that’s the whole back bone of the show. Do you buy into the machine or whatever, I don’t know. But now we’re getting too deep with it. I try not to think that deeply.

Have you ever had moments in the writers’ room when you’re like, “Welp, this is just too far.”
Yeah. To make the show edgier or whatever, you always wanna tackle pretty taboo issues. But we know that, and we also don’t want to be dicks, you know? So there are always situations that pop up, where you just don’t want to come off as assholes. Especially when you’re treading on grounds—like we do a lot of gay jokes. Where our dudes are borderline kind of gay dudes, in the way we love each other I guess in the sense of that. The bro love. Even when we had an episode where Karl wants to cut his dick off, and you know, we were just coming from a place of like, this is a pure act of friendship. Karl’s explanation at first was that he had lived 25 years as a man, so he wanted to live 25 years as a woman. That’s all. He just wanted to experience both sides of the gender. Because he’s Karl, and he’s a weird spiritual dude or whatever. On his own. And we did get some notes from the LGBT community because they were starting to take on a hard stance on how transsexuals and transgenders were being portrayed in media because it was becoming the subject they were tackling at that point. So we had to re-write it where like, Karl didn’t want his dick anymore. It wasn’t anything about becoming a woman or anything like that. That story, in particular, never came from a place of hate, or being like, “transgenders are weird, bad people.” We’re just like, those issues are out there, and it’s fun to play in the places where there’s debate.

I feel like we do this on the website at times too, where if you can just kind of land something with a comedic tone on an issue that’s super delicate, you can almost speak to it in a way that’s greater than taking it super seriously. Obviously, you need to take these things seriously but you can almost speak to a different element of truth of it by making a really good dick joke. Which is a weird thing to think about, but you really can.
Yeah man. It helps at least open up the conversation. And it allows peoples’ natural shields to kind of go down. Whereas if somebody was like, “Let’s talk about transgender.” Normal, not normal dudes, but a close-minded person, as soon as they hear that, they freak or whatever. But if you can sneak in a joke where they laugh at first, then maybe I don’t know, then you can kind of feed your way in or whatever. I mean, it has always been that way. It’s an important job in society I think, for the comedian. Because they can hide everything under laughs. That’s why The Daily Show is so successful. It’s a show about politics but you actually wanna watch it because you’re laughing!

I feel like you guys have been able to do that well.
Yeah, I think there are some things that we’ve actually done smartly, I think. Don’t get me wrong, our show is not the smartest fuckin’ show in the world, we do a lot of stupid stuff, but I think we come with good intentions.

We talk about this a lot: the power of being dumb-smart. Being incredibly stupid but at the same time knowing exactly what you’re doing and being aware. That can take you pretty far.
I like to think we’re at least aware.

Are there any topics in the upcoming season that you’re tackling that you could share or is that kind of on lock?
So far this season just seems pretty fun and innocent. I’m trying to think. I mean, we had this idea where the three dudes think that they had sex with each other, and they have to kind of tackle that. But we’re still in the making of that.

[Laughs] That’s interesting.
I wanna approach it in the realest way possible.

Do you have any highlighted records of the year that you’ve been really into?
This year, I actually really liked the new Flying Lotus album, You’re Dead!. I really just popped it into the CD player in my car and I haven’t stopped listening to it. I’ve been a fan and I’ve been able to actually meet him and consider him a friend. The dude is just cool, man. Real cool, creative energy. Everything he does is really well thought out, him and Thundercat just make some sweet music and some really awesome videos and it’s just the whole Brainfeeder energy is just cool.

I did an interview when he was in New York a couple of months ago. I’d interviewed him before over the phone but, at least before this album cycle, he kind of had a bit of a reputation when it comes to the press. He’s just a really reserved guy. So I was nervous going into the interview, but man, when I sat down with him, he just kicked ass. We got stoned and hung out, talked, got like pretty deep, but it was a great interview. He’s a really nice guy. And his music is sweet.
Yeah he’s great. And I don't mind when artists are mysterious or whatever. The same thing goes with Earl Sweatshirt. He’s very mysterious. I wanna be able to make up my own shit in my head a little bit. It’s not that I don't like meeting these people and finding out they’re really actually very cool and funny and original people. But I know as a fan, if I were to look at myself back in the day, it’s okay to not know everything about your artist. That’s what made Prince fuckin’ radical. People would make up rumors. Or, you know, when you think Marilyn Manson, people say shit like, “I heard he fuckin’ threw a box of puppies out in the crowd and said ‘I’m not playing until they’re all dead!’ and sucks his own dick!” I’m sure KISS had the same fuckin’ thing, and I’m sure The Carpenters had some weird rumors about them eating each other’s buttholes or something, I don’t know.

Applying that to your own art, and what you guys make with Workaholics, do you feel like you’ve ever wanted to approach it that way or kind of keep it close, or do you ever think about that?
You know, I think what works to our advantage is the exact opposite. I feel like what people like about us in our show is that we feel very accessible. Often times, we meet people in public and they’re so comfortable with us because they think we’re their friends. Because I think you can see on the show that, you know, we weren’t actors that were thrown together. We’re like, actual friends. We actually have a history. We actually came up together. We’re living together. We were broke together. It’s basically like a band, you know? Not making it, just playing gigs for no money just to be seen and all that. So I think that that really translates to the screen, real friendship. So I think that appeals to people and that allows them to feel like they’re also a part of that friendship. And also, you know, it helps that, and hopefully I remain nice too, we’re pretty nice dudes out in public.

Eric Sundermann believes wizards never die. Eric Sundermann is on Twitter.